PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

9Feb/104

Nikon. Delivers.

I can safely say without reservations that tonight’s lens launch is the most significant to come from Nikon in a few years. Both of these lenses close important holes in Nikon’s line-up and will generate good will for them for years to come. Let’s look at both of them individually.

The 16-35mm f/4 VR.

Nikon users waited for a long time to see a fixed-aperture, wide-angle zoom in a high-grade lens barrel targeted at the upper-middle range of the market. This is one of those extremely specific customer demands for which only one product can be made to fill the void. This is that product.

AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

There is a simple and compelling value argument for this kind of lens: it can serve both as a wide zoom on FX and as a normal zoom DX. This makes you want to own one no matter what kind of photographer you are today or might become tomorrow, and the rugged build means it will last long enough for you to actually test this assertion. The addition of VR is purely icing on the cake.

The price is unknown to me at this time (*) but the f/4 speed suggests a “high but bearable” price with excellent margins for Nikon. This is one of Nikon’s most attractive lenses ever, it will sell to production capacity for a while.

(*) Update: it's $1300, not too bad, not too bad.

The 24mm f/1.4.

There are only a few lenses in Canon’s lineup that I have looked at with envy over the years. This is one of them. I have no use, need nor desire for ultra-telephotos but a high-speed wide prime is a tool of a million uses for me. Assuming great performance, which charts do suggest, this complex beast is going to be a pillar of the Nikkor system for a while to come.


AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

What’s more, the same argument I made above for the FX/DX compatibility applies to the 24mm f/1.4 as well. This lens can be your dream fast wide prime on FX, or your fast near-normal prime with a “sweet spot” bonus on DX. You just can’t go wrong with this lens if the price (*) doesn’t preclude it. 

(*) Update: ouch, $2200 is on the outer limits of what I expected.

So much so that this new lens presents a real dilemma for me at the 21-24mm point – Zeiss or Nikkor? I don’t know the answer and that’s extremely exciting! Certainly could be the topic of a lengthy essay some day. Suffice to say I don’t expect the Nikkor to offer edge-to-edge glory the way that the Zeiss does, but in the long view this is something my 24mm Elmarit ASPH does offer.

Cheers,

Olivier


Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. $2200 is obscene. I’m practically offended by that price.

    I was really excited about that lens at first but that price is just insane. I know that people who make a living with their camera or who have the funds will enjoy it, but that pricing really puts it out of the reach of the vast majority of the people who really want something like that.

    When you can get a 35/1.8 AF-S for less than $200, and you think about the fact that you can buy 11 (eleven!) of the 35/1.8 for the price of one 24/1.4, it’s crazy! Sure I know they are completely different lenses for different segments but still!

    Would you be comparing the ZF 25/2.8 with the 24/1.4 AF-S? It seems like that’s kinda apples/oranges. If you have a 24/2.0 or 2.8, might throw those into the mix too.

    I’m dejected by the pricing of that 24. I think that other lens might be interesting but it’s size, the bulk, is unfortunate.

  2. After doing a bit more reading, and realizing that the Leica 24/1.4 is more than $6K (!!!) I’m slowly realizing that if the Nikkor fast 24 is anywhere near as good as the Leica, then that price starts to make a bit of sense. Still the initial shock was jarring.

  3. I think you are correct about the 16-35 being a popular lens at a tolerable price. However, didn’t your 24-70 review leave you with the conclusion that you’d really enjoy a good prime instead? You didn’t like the 24-70’s weight at all IIRC, and the 16-35 is about 3/4ths the mass of the 24-70.

    Gelded spells Nikon lock-in; that’s the biggest disappointment here. The 24/1.4 is the more interesting lens IMHO. Doesn’t Leica use actual MTF as tested, rather than Nikon’s computed MTF numbers?

    • Hi Matt,

      It’s clear that I have no interest in the zoom myself.

      I also think the 24mm is the more interesting lens. Of the two, this is the lens you’ll still remember 10 years from now. I’m trying to see if I can work it into my budget somehow.

      As for MTFs… Leica recently admitted that they were posting computer-generated MTFs, just like the Japanese, leaving only Zeiss to post measured MTFs. This said, so far as I know Leica is generating these MTFs with broad-spectrum white-light simulations, whereas the Japanese use single-wavelength light. Good white light MTFs are more difficult to achieve – this was well presented in a Zeiss paper by Dr Nasse published a few years ago, I’m sure you can find a link.

      Sincerely,

      Olivier


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